Last October, I had the pleasure of recording in Ryan Haft's new home studio. And when I wanted some cool organ sounds, Haft called his friend and keyboard expert, Ryan De Grandy. In less than 30 minutes, a charming fellow with a laid back smile was hooking me up with the goods.
"Do you want, like, a Continental sound?" he asked. "I don't know what that means," I said. He quickly understood that I didn't understand as much about music gear as he did. In the most polite, least Guitar-Center-asshole kinda way, he explained that "Continentals have a thin, bright sound."
We got to talking and he reminded me that we had met before in New York. Then he let me know about his project, a boogie band called Psychic Mirrors, and he told me in the most confident, least cocky way, "You'll really like it."
A few weeks later, I saw them play at the Vagabond and he was right. I hadn't been this impressed by a new local band since I saw the Jacuzzi Boys for the first time.
Tomorrow at Churchill's, De Grandy and his army of ten throw it down again, alongside with Jacuzzi Boys and Teepee. And as a primer, I got De Grandy to answer seven questions.
Crossfade: You told me your band plays boogie. But there's a lot of soul, gospel vibes, and classic R&B in the mix. When did you cook up the idea to start this band and how long have you guys been working on it?
Ryan De Grandy: Well, I started to plan for the group in July of 2010, and we began playing in October of that same year.
When you guys play, it's a lot of fun without being cheesy. The musicianship is incredibly tight, but not overblown or pretentious. How do you achieve that balance as a unit?
Everyone just has to be on the same page and put love into the music, you know? The love must be there first, while the tightness and all that comes later on.
Just finding three or four people to form a band isn't the easiest thing in the world. How did you manage to put together such a tight and focused ten-piece group?
Lucky for me, I just knew some fresh people to do the job. A lot of the cats in this group have been making and playing music for ten-plus years. So after being in the game for that long, you go, "Alright, well, I like how this cat plays ...and that kitty too."
Let me get some statistics here: Who's who in the band, what do they play, where are they from, and what other bands do they play in?
On backing vocals, we have Cecilia de Cardenas, Michelle Noguera, and Teresa Liberatore from Echolalia. On percussion, we have two wonderful cats by the names Jose Pena and Colin Smith from Lil Daggers and Capsule, respectively. On electric guitar and bass guitar, we have the very fantastic duo of Ryan Haft and Eric Hernandez, also from Capsule. On synthesizers and electric piano, we got the very talented Ileana de Cardenas from Steak House and Secret Girl. On drums, we have the stylish Mr. Eddie Garcia. I do the lead vocals, mono synth, electric piano, and the composition/arrangement of the tunes. I'm also Kabuki Iron Kolors, Cuchito, Rashied Tali, etc. The entire group is from Miami, and we pride ourselves on that very much.
What is Psychic Mirrors rehearsal like? Are you calling all the shots? Or does the group work together?
We get together, play and laugh a lot. Any group has to work together. But I do lead the group since I wrote the material.
It seems like there's something going on behind the music. There's a power kind of like you'd find at church. Is this intentional? Do you realize the communal nature of your music?
I just do what's in my heart, and I know the others in the band feel the same.
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It seems like you've achieved some of your goals -- finding the right band, playing the kind of music that you want. What is the ultimate objective for Psychic Mirrors?
We want to do something that is distinctly a Miami sound, which will hopefully keep heads melting and spreading love.
Psychic Mirrors with Jacuzzi Boys and Teepee. Saturday, April 9. Churchill's Pub, 5501 NE Second Ave., Miami. The show starts at 9 p.m. Call 305-757-1807 or visit churchillspub.com.